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pH buffered


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  #1  
Old 05-27-2010, 09:37 PM
StrangGuy StrangGuy is offline
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Default pH buffered

Hi,
I am using Liquid Earth (LE) as my nutrient solution. My question though may be a general one in regards to the term “pH buffered”.

LE has the following benefit statement.
• pH buffered, immediately available to plants. Liquid Earth's liquid formulas are easy to use, blend readily with water and are pH buffered so they're immediately available to plants for a longer period of time.

From instructions when mixing the LE with water it wants the water to be balanced to a pH of 7.0 prior. It is also my understanding that most plants like PH somewhere in the range of 5.5-6.5.

1. What does this “pH buffered” really mean?
2. Does pH even matter if a product claims to be “pH buffered”?
3. If it is “pH buffered” why wouldn’t a pH of 8.5 be sufficient prior to adding solution?

Sorry for the question list, someone may be able to answer them all in one statement, but this is what I need to learn.

Thanks,
StrangGuy

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Old 05-27-2010, 10:32 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Well I am not a chemist so I don't really know what they use for the buffers, but the buffers simply help with pH swings of your nutrient solution. I think most hydroponic nutrients have pH buffers added. But the buffers don't adjust the pH of your nutrient solution, just help prevent swings once you have the right pH level. I always mix up the nutrient solution, then run it through the system before checking and/or adjusting my pH levels. Once it's in the right range I rarely need to adjust it again unless I have added replacement water (that was not pH adjusted first).

The right pH range is important because the plants can only absorb the nutrients in there pH range. If a pH is to high or to low then the nutrients in the solution become unavailable to the plants. Technically the plants can starve and/or show signs of deficiency, even with a perfect nutrient solution if it is not in the right pH range (therefor becoming unavailable to the plants). So the buffers are there to help prevent pH swings that can cause the nutrients from being available to your plants, but you should still regularly check your pH so you can be sure it is in the right range. Especially when needing to add replacement water, at least until you become familiar with it.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 05-28-2010 at 06:52 AM.
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2010, 07:11 AM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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Yeah, the buffers will sometimes be good enough to make your 8.5 pH water in the 6 range or a little lower. But buffers don't last forever and can only take so much abuse. That is why it is important to use good quality of water from the get go. The buffers are really only for the changes AFTER you mix the solution and put it to use. The worse your water is, the sooner they will fail to keep pH constant. Addition of nutrient when topping off helps, but it is best to fully change the solution on occasion. By good quality, I don't mean water that you added acid to in order to bring it down from 8.5. I mean water that measures 6-7 without additional chemicals, like rain water, RO water, or distilled. The pH being that high would be due to a lot of mineral content that could cause you other issues and don't go away just because you add acid. I hope that helps.
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:21 PM
StrangGuy StrangGuy is offline
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Thanks team for the info. But I am still a little confused. Please forgive me.
I'm sure that I didn’t state my questions clear. I don’t really have a water problem or PH variance issue. I guess that my questions should have stated that if I measure a current PH of 8.5 (which I never have) after a few days and the plant need 6.5, would the buffer make up the difference and provide the nutrients to be available to the plants at 6.5 even though my tester states that the PH is much higher?
So therefor if true, you would never need to be concerned with PH ever again. This seems to be the advertisement/buy in of “PH Buffered” nutrients. Meaning that whatever you measure in PH (8.5~6.5) doesn’t really matter even after a week of nutrients being added, because the nutrients are still available to the plants because the nutrients are “PH Buffered”.
Thoughts?

Thanks,
StrangGuy
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:07 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Quote:
I guess that my questions should have stated that if I measure a current PH of 8.5 (which I never have) after a few days and the plant need 6.5, would the buffer make up the difference and provide the nutrients to be available to the plants at 6.5 even though my tester states that the PH is much higher?
No, the pH buffers wont change the pH. You will still need the pH adjusters (down) to get the 8.5 pH into the desired 6.5 pH range. The buffers just help keep it in the 6.5 pH range longer (after using the pH adjusters to get it there).
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:23 PM
StrangGuy StrangGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
No, the pH buffers wont change the pH. You will still need the pH adjusters (down) to get the 8.5 pH into the desired 6.5 pH range. The buffers just help keep it in the 6.5 pH range longer (after using the pH adjusters to get it there).
Great, that is what I was looking for. Thanks.
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:06 PM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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GPS, I'm afraid that is incorrect or I am misunderstanding you. Buffers WILL change pH, assuming that the pH isn't too high or too low to overwhelm the buffers. Again, that's why it is important to start with good quality water. The pH of LE's Grow is supposed to be 3.8, but when mixed with 7.0 water it will change the pH to about 5.4-5.8.

Maybe if I try to answer the actual questions, I'd make more sense. Sorry about that.

1) pH buffered means that the nutrient solution contains an acid and base that work to keep pH within a certain range when small amounts of ions are introduced which would normally cause pH swings. Example: add nutrients to pure 7.0pH water and you will experience a huge pH swing (the amount of swing depends on the chemical composition of the nutrients). Without buffers, you will need to adjust even if you started with neutral water. Hence the claim that the nutrients are ready for immediate use. Essentially, they made the adjustments for you because they know what effect those nutrients will have on pH. They also used very stable chemicals that will withstand changes (or buffer). I'm also almost positive those statements are disclaimed with the assumption of using neutral water and having a particular water temperature. They are with other manufacturers. I strongly recommend you google "pH" and "pH buffers". pH is arguably the most important thing to understand in hydro, so it would be beneficial to learn more from sources other than forums where you could be steered wrong by just about any of us on accident.

2) Yes.

3) That's the one I answered in my previous post. I just didn't specify. Sorry about that.

Also, I may be wrong, but it appears that you might think the word buffer means "protection from pH". I get that from your asking if the nutrients will still be available even if your pH meter reads higher. Well, it doesn't. It means some prevention of pH swings and some stabilizing of pH to optimum range in the beginning. In other words, if your solution reads 8.5 that is still bad and the buffers, well, aren't buffering. I hope that helps with some of the confusion.

One last thing: pH swings often mean something. If you are experiencing them daily and drastically (eventually you likely will even if you aren't yet), then it means it is time to change the nutrient solution, you need to check your solution temps, or you may need to start with better water that has lower mineral content.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:12 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Quote:
I'm afraid that is incorrect or I am misunderstanding you.
Well I am not a chemist, and I am sure you are correct. But the way I read the question it sounded like StrangGuy was asking if he got nutrients that were pH buffed, would that mean there was no need to buy any pH adjusters because the buffers would always keep the nutrients at the right pH level.

I use the flora series nutrients from GH (with pH buffers), and RO water. The water pH fluctuates between about 4.5 to 7, and I almost always need to adjust the pH a little to the desired 6.0 (broccoli 6.5) after I add the nutrients, and let it run for about 30 min before checking it. I'm not real picky as long as it is close I'm good. But even though the nutrients are pH buffed I still need to adjust them to the right level. I thought that was more or less what the question was asking.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:01 PM
StrangGuy StrangGuy is offline
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Thanks Joe and GPS! You understood my questions well. Very informative information and I’m sure that it will help others in the future.
I will take your advice Joe and do some studying on pH.
Thanks again for helping me clear this up.

StrangGuy
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  #10  
Old 08-10-2010, 12:01 AM
watercatwn6535nd watercatwn6535nd is offline
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Just FYI you can be way off on ph and still produce a great plant. in fact i would only adjust after i saw the ph was effecting the plant in a negative way. flowers and veggies grow all over the world and lots of nasty and good water comes out of hoses to water them and they all produce food or flowers. RO system is cheap in a small hydro system if you have to by ph balancers.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:51 AM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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Whoa. That is really bad advice.

First of all, you are dead wrong in saying "flowers and veggies grow all over the world and lots of nasty and good water comes out of hoses to water them and they all produce food or flowers". That is just completely false. They don't all produce food or flowers. People fail to produce flowers or the flowers shrivel prematurely due to having too high of pH coming from the hose (hydrangeas are a great example). People lose plants to contamination a lot. Plenty of studies have also shown that plants uptake a lot of heavy metals from contaminated water, which can be passed on to us. People also lose plants to bad pH a lot. It's one reason you don't find tons of people planting blueberries in Indiana (where I am). Unless you amend the soil heavily, the pH is too high for them and they will either produce very low yields or die. You can grow them, but only when you are smart enough to take pH seriously. Otherwise you will fail miserably.

Second, if you wait until your plant is exhibiting visible signs of pH problems then you waited way too long. It doesn't happen overnight. It can take a week for plants to start showing the signs to you. That is a week of damage. Then you have at least another week of fixing the damage if you can even do so. The vegetation in place that has been damaged may not recover, so you will have to wait for new if that is the case. Just depends on the damage. You could lose fruit and have to start all over with fruiting. The fruit that is present, if not lost, will have suffered nutrient deficiency, too. What is the point of growing your own food if you aren't going to make it as nutritious as possible? Why risk losing precious weeks? If you grow outdoors, you have limited time, anyway. Doesn't seem worth losing that time over ignorance of a very important factor. One unbelievable common example is BER of tomatoes. If you let your pH get out of hand and allow the nutrients to precipitate, you can lose every single tomato on the vine. BER is one of the most common problems in hydro tomatoes. Why increase your chances

Third, I spend enough on nutrients. Why would you want to waste them on ignorance of the importance of pH? pH swings can cause your nutes to precipitate, as I mentioned. That makes them useless. Need evidence? What's that rust color on the inside of your rez when you let it get to pH 8 for a long period? It's the iron that fell out because iron disagrees concerning the importance of pH. And that's just a highly visible example.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:43 PM
watercatwn6535nd watercatwn6535nd is offline
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its not bad advice, your being to extreme. if the ph is just a bit off my point is dont worry about. And were not talking about blue berries in soil either. I grow hundreds of plants from around the world and i use the same ph and nutrient mix on all of them and have excellent results. lets assume the guy is not or any one is using non drinkable water if your using somthing else then we should know that. we have to have some standard on here to answer and help general questions.
and if you find drinkable water around the world you'll have pretty good luck in your hydro system. again watering dirt is not what we do on here and it adds to many vairables.
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Old 08-10-2010, 04:57 PM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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I'm not being extreme. You specifically said "you can be way off on pH and still produce a great plant". Your second post said a "bit off". Those are two totally different things, particularly when dealing with pH as the scale is logarithmic and not linear. The first one, which is what I replied to, is totally false and can set people up for failure if they make the mistake of taking that advice. So, as I said, it's really bad advice.

Also, you said "nasty" water. That isn't usually confused with "drinkable". You're right that there should be a standard to go by when answering questions. Just as there are standard definitions to words. It stands to reason that "nasty" water would be very poor quality water. So if you say "nasty", I don't think people should just assume you mean drinkable. That makes no sense. Poor quality water should be avoided for best results.

No, watering dirt isn't what we do on here. But chemistry is chemistry and works the same in dirt or in hydro. Granted, your variables of soil actually make pH of the water even less of an issue, but pH still matters either way. So, the examples are perfectly relevant. New people tend to relate to soil better when making comparisons.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:07 PM
watercatwn6535nd watercatwn6535nd is offline
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Your right my bad choice of words.

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